EBRD and EU to boost competitiveness of small businesses in North Macedonia

By Axel  Reiserer

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  • EBRD loan of up to €2.5 million to Komercijalna Banka AD Skopje
  • Sub-loans to small businesses to boost competitiveness
  • EU grants will support progress of local economy

New financing by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will contribute to boosting the competitiveness of local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in North Macedonia.

The EBRD is providing a loan of up to €2.5 million to Komercijalna Banka AD Skopje for on-lending to local businesses for investments in production facilities and compliance with EU Directives in the fields of environmental protection, workers’ safety and product quality and safety.

In addition to loans, SMEs benefit from tailor-made technical assistance and know-how for project preparation and implementation, as well as grant incentives worth up to 15 per cent of the total loan amount on successful project completion. The technical assistance and grants are funded by the European Union’s Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF).

Raising competitiveness will improve companies’ opportunities not only on the local market, but also internationally. At the same time, customers will benefit from improved product quality and wider choice.

Komercijalna Banka AD Skopje is the largest bank in North Macedonia and previously received a €5 million loan under the EBRD Western Balkans SME Competitiveness Support Programme in 2018, a programme supported by funding from the European Union (EU). This financing has been successfully deployed and in the face of the coronavirus pandemic new funds are now needed more than ever.

Andi Aranitasi, EBRD Head of North Macedonia, said: “We are very pleased to renew our relationship with Komercijalna Banka AD Skopje, our long-standing and trusted partner, for the benefit of the local economy. This programme offers local SMEs support to reach the EU standards in three key areas: environmental protection, health and safety, and product quality. The new funding will facilitate access to much-needed finance for small businesses, which is key for economic recovery in these challenging times. It will also make these businesses more competitive and resilient and allow them to integrate better into the regional and European value chains.”

Ambassador David Geer, Head of the EU Delegation to North Macedonia, said: “SMEs are the backbone of every economy and critical for innovation, competitiveness and job creation. The European Union will continue to provide support for the sector in North Macedonia through the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility in order to help accelerate economic recovery, prepare for the green and digital transitions, and ultimately the full participation of SMEs in the EU’s single market upon accession. We particularly want to encourage partners from the Western Balkans 6 to use the opportunities provided by the Common Regional Market to work towards these goals.”

Maja Stevkova Shterieva, Chief Financial Officer and Member of the Board of Directors of Komercijlana Banka AD Skopje, said: „The SME sector as a whole is very important to the economy of our country. We are very pleased that, in this very challenging period due to Covid-19 and in partnership with EBRD and EU, we can provide SMEs with additional support through a new loan that has uniquely favourable conditions and a grant component. We believe this loan will also provide them with useful support to embrace new trends and technologies and to create new jobs“.

The EBRD is a major institutional investor in North Macedonia. To date, it has invested €2 billion through 140 projects in the country. The Bank focuses on the expansion of the local private sector, the promotion of regional and international integration and the sustainable use of resources in the country.

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